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Preview: Sabres at Penguins

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang still out; Buffalo missing Dmitry Kulikov

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

SABRES (27-26-12) at PENGUINS (39-16-8)



Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres will be without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov after he sustained an upper-body injury in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Justin Falk will replace Kulikov, who coach Dan Bylsma said is day to day. The Sabres will look to rebound after losing for the fifth time in six games (1-3-2). Goalie Anders Nilsson, who made 46 saves to help the Sabres defeat the Penguins 2-1 at KeyBank Center on Nov. 19, will start after Robin Lehner made 31 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to Tampa Bay. "He was outstanding in the game," Bylsma told the Buffalo News. "He got us the point. He's got a bit of a riddle, a mystery about him in a shootout." Buffalo will attempt to stay within striking distance of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Sabres (66 points) are five points behind the New York Islanders, who have two games in hand.


Penguins team scope

The Pittsburgh Penguins again will be without defenseman Kris Letang, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury sustained against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 21 and could be out longer than originally expected. Letang was first listed as day to day and practiced one day before the Penguins faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 Coors Light Stadium Series on Feb. 25. However, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday that Letang's recovery timeline is unclear. "It's a little bit more complicated than [day to day]," Sullivan said. "We're hopeful that it's nothing long term." Goalie Matt Murray will start his second straight game after Marc-Andre Fleury started Wednesday. Murray is 7-2-2 with 22 goals allowed and one shutout in his past 11 games. Pittsburgh (86 points) is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan Division, seven points behind the Washington Capitals. The Penguins will look to surpass Columbus by winning a second straight game since losing two straight on Feb. 28 and March 1. They are 3-3-1 in their past seven games after going 6-0-2 in their previous eight.


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Brian Gionta

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson -- Evan Rodrigues -- Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Justin Bailey

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Josh Gorges -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Zach Bogosian

Anders Nilsson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Dmitry Kulikov

Injured: Kyle Okposo (ribs), William Carrier (knee), Johan Larsson (wrist)


Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Jake Guentzel -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Matt Cullen -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz

Mark Streit -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Carter Rowney, Derrick Pouliot

Injured: Bryan Rust (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee), Kris Letang (upper body)


Status report

Okposo will not play Sunday or for the foreseeable future. Byslma labeled Okposo week to week after he sustained a rib injury Thursday. … Pittsburgh is expected to go with the same lineup it used in a 5-2 win against Tampa Bay on Friday.


Who's hot

Eichel has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) on a nine-game point streak. He extended the streak with an assist Saturday. … Malkin had two goals and an assist Friday. He has 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in his past 17 games.

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